A campaign by a small group of local residents is behind the Port Authority of New South Wales’ decision to suspend overnight stays by international cruise ships.
Ceo Grant Gilfillan said the Port Authority was responding to community concerns and the ban will stay in place until the NSW Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has regulated the use of low sulphur fuel by ships berthing at the White Bay Cruise Terminal.
In March voters retained the NSW state government led by Premier Mike Baird whose campaign included a pledge to reduce the sulphur content of fuel for cruise ships in Sydney to 0.1% by July 2016.
Margy Osmond, ceo of the Tourism and Transport Forum, said this pre-election promise puts Sydney’s cruise industry at risk.
Osmond said the government is not giving the industry enough time to change and has not explained where cruise ships will have access to the low sulphur fuel which is currently unavailable in large quantities in Sydney.
‘Nor has any consideration been given to the investment cruise ship companies like Carnival have started to make to introduce scrubbing technology,’ she said. ‘This technology is being phased in voluntarily to their ships over the coming four years, specifically to deliver much lower emissions.’
Seatrade Cruise News understands the NSW EPA is bringing forward the 0.1% sulphur content regulation to October this year for ships wanting to overnight at White Bay.
The next scheduled overnight stay at White Bay is Star Cruises’ SuperStar Virgo, which is due to arrive December 18 and depart December 19.
Local residents have complained about noise from docked ships and health problems including headaches, bloodshot eyes and respiratory issues since the A$57m White Bay Cruise Terminal opened in April 2013.
The terminal replaced Wharf 8 Darling Harbour which was demolished in 2010 to make way for the multimillion-dollar Barangaroo complex.
A Sydney Ports spokesman said a major reason for selecting White Bay 5, which cannot take ships that are too big to go under the Sydney Harbour Bridge, was its existing deepwater quayside infrastructure and its ability to berth two ships simultaneously by using neighbouring White Bay 4.
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